Montreal Canadiens cannot keep relying on David Savard as heavily

The Montreal Canadiens went into the season with anticipation that their defense core would struggle. Full of youth and inexperience, they have performed better than people would have expected them to.

While the youngsters have impressed and found ways to get the job done for the Montreal Canadiens, the veteran defenders are a different story. Chris Wideman needs some time on the bench whenever the opportunity arises.

But David Savard has been an absolute workhorse for the Canadiens’ blue line, getting the job done routinely for them through this point in the season. He has been playing top-pairing minutes and then some.

He’s on the team’s special team units and continues to be relied on heavily as the team’s veteran defenseman. Savard has the most games played in the defense core at 680 in his 12-year career. The Habs have been putting him to use this season.

Montreal Canadiens are relying heavily on David Savard.

Arpon Basu’s tweets and intermission interviews tipped me off to this. Savard was relied on heavily by the Habs, as Basu noted. He had played almost 13 minutes, with four minutes being on special teams through about half of the game, quite the workload.

Basu’s right. There’s no reason to put Savard in this type of position on a team that’s considered rebuilding. Let alone on games in October. It’s not like this is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals or the end of the year while they try to clinch a postseason spot.

Throughout his 12-year career, Savard has averaged 20:29 minutes of ice time a night. With the Habs, that number climbs up to 20:57 of ice time a night. But in 2022-23, that number has been even higher.

Through the team’s first seven games, Harris has averaged 22:17 of ice time. He finished the game against the Sabres with 21:50 of ice time. It’s not just the numbers that are staggering, but how he’s spending his ice time as well.

With a struggling power play, Savard has seen some time in the rotation of players back there, well, until the team opted to go with a five-forward power play setup. Beyond that, Savard has been on the penalty kill.

It’s a high-stress amount of ice time for him to be out there playing for the kill; one missed assignment or mistake can lead to a goal for the opposition, with the Habs being down a man. Martin St. Louis is asking a lot to keep relying on Savard at this rate.

The Hab s cannot go through the 2022-23 season, continuing to expect Savard to be logging high-leverage minutes like that. The younger players have stepped up, and eventually, the team will get back more veterans in Joel Edmundson and Mike Matheson when they return from their respective injuries.

Savard’s workload needs to change. While he’s been performing well, it’s hard to expect a world where he’s able to keep this up.

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